Tag Archives: economy

The History of Whaling – An interview with Wally of The Oceania Project

I stumbled across this today:


If you’re interested in how whaling got started all the way through to modern whaling, Wally Franklin of The Oceania Project does a good job at describing it all for ABC Radio, in an interview from a few years ago.  Grab a cup of tea and relax old-school style for half an hour, and let the history wash over you.

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Community Cabinet and my first political experience

Dear readers, I apologise for the absence of my usual Wednesday post last night, but I was in a meeting with the Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke.  The Prime Minister was in town (Kwinana) with 15 of her ministers for a Community Cabinet meeting and I got the chance to talk directly to Minister Burke for ten whole minutes before it all started.  And yes, I was nervous!  Hence why I had to come home and have a day to assess what happened before I shared the fun with you.

The scene at Gilmore College on Wednesday evening (5/09/12). Hopefully better photos to come...

The scene at Gilmore College on Wednesday evening (5/09/12) Hopefully better photos to come…

The 35th Community Cabinet was held in Gilmore College hall with an audience of around 300 locals (and some not-quite-so-local).  It was an opportunity for us to raise any issues directly with the government and officials themselves.  But before I go into that, I’ll tell you about the Ministerial meeting.

After pre-registering, I was the first of five people to meet with Minister Burke before the Community Cabinet meeting.  Others would be talking about environmental issues including urban bushland preservation, the South-west water catchment area, and destructive logging practices in WA.  I talked about marine sanctuaries.

Australia is about to become a world leader in marine conservation.  Minister Burke announced in June that the government is to create a network of 44 marine parks and reserves around Australia in Commonwealth waters.  Since then, a second consultation period has been in place over six weeks, asking members of the public and stakeholders to comment on whether they approve of this plan. This submission period will close on Monday 10th September: next week.

I asked for a meeting so that I could talk to the Minister about this plan.  I’m passionate about marine conservation, and wanted to say ‘thank you’ to the Minister for getting this milestone into place.  Well, almost there.  We still have the final hurdles to go, and recently opposition has been growing loudly from recreational fishers misinformed about how the sanctuaries will affect them, and even worse, the Coalition.

Click here to see my recent blog for Conservation Council of WA about why the Coalition’s claims are a load of swash.  I asked Tony Burke how confident he was that the marine parks plan would go through, and he answered “Very.”  That’s reassuring.  He said that the Coalition’s Private Members Bill against the plan would never succeed.  However he did say that the move has flagged that the Liberals may be targeting marine parks in the next election…  And that isn’t reassuring at all.  We have to make sure these new parks come into place within the next 6-8 months, so that they are law and cannot be touched by any ridiculous, politically-minded move that fails to keep Australia’s best interests in mind.

Minister Burke says he’s doing the best he can to defend marine parks, but how much of that is just political smooth-talking I don’t know.  I certainly feel that he could do more to defend and promote the amazing scientific research that supports and underpins the case for marine sanctuaries, research that has taken over a decade to collate.  Holding up a pile of documents to a camera and saying ‘here, look how much work has been done’ obviously hasn’t convinced enough people.  The science is great and deserves better promotion.  Otherwise we may risk a situation like climate change where the voice of a loud minority caused people to doubt the solid scientific evidence… and continues to lead us into debate.

This was my first political pseudo-interview.  I admit it wasn’t amazing.  In fact, I had a feeling the whole way through that he knew exactly how many times I’d done an interview before (none) and was taking full advantage of that fact to smoothly turn me away from some questions (like asking him about funding for baseline studies as soon as the marine parks are implemented) and turning the question away from him (like saying that he needs a wave of community support – from me and others – right now because he’s doing the best he can).  But my friends from Save Our Marine Life – who have dealt with Minister Burke a lot over the past few years – said that honestly, it just sounded like I met Tony Burke.  So I came away feeling that maybe I’d done alright.

Mostly I just smiled a lot and said how awesome these marine parks are going to be, and keep it up (don’t fail us now).  I said that he’s got community support – and that is true.  Not long ago a poll showed that 70% of Australians are happy with marine parks, that in fact it’s the most popular decision the current government has made.

We just need those people to come out now and support marine parks so that they come into place and Australia can truly become a world leader in marine conservation.

So if you haven’t already entered your submission, please go to the Save Our Marine Life website and sign the petition that says YES to marine sanctuaries.

Julia Gillard and her Cabinet team at the meeting. Picture: Ben Crabtree, The West Australian

Julia Gillard and her Cabinet team at the meeting. Picture: Ben Crabtree, The West Australian

By the way, I mentioned that there was also a Community Cabinet.  As a British girl living in Australia, I think I must be certifiably Aussie now, because I’ve been to a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.  Do you agree?

Anyway, the main focus of the night was education.  Members of the public were able to ask questions for about an hour, directed either to the PM or other Ministers who were present. Education reforms and unemployment were the main topics raised, with others including the super trawler, asylum seekers, aged care, the aid budget, uranium mining in WA, how the carbon tax works, and why the government puts ‘mentally fragile’ asylum seekers into detention centres overseas (the answer to which was that it is another deterrent).

Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parks, was also present.  Ms Parks is planning to put forward a private member’s bill stopping supertrawlers from fishing in Australian waters.  When asked why Environment Minister Tony Burke hadn’t stopped the FV Margiris from coming, he said: “I did the absolute limit I was advised I could do under existing law . . . should the law be changed?” – referring to Ms Parks’ upcoming Bill.  I for one will be absolutely behind her on that one, and I’m sure that the 80,000+ Australians who have already protested against the supertrawler will be as well.  For more on that issue, see my earlier blog (and recent update).

The most popular question was the last one too: what could the federal government do about a planned marina at a local public reserve site (Point Peron) bequeathed by the Commonwealth and being sold off by the state Liberal government?  Whilst Minister Burke had only just returned from visiting the site that day, he fended off the question on the basis of needing further advice.  For more info on that campaign, visit Hands Off Point Peron.


And that was my first political experience.  Do you have any tips for next time for me?

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European Fish Weeks, Ocean2012 and the Common Fisheries Policy

This video recently came to my attention. I was impressed by the simple, direct and informative message. I liked the animation as well.  So I had a little look around to see where it came from.

I live in Australia, so hadn’t heard of European Fish Weeks or Ocean2012. But now I’ve read a bit about them, and I’m impressed and glad that they exist.

Ocean2012 is:

A coalition dedicated to ensuring that the 2012 reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy stops overfishing, ends destructive fishing practices and delivers fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.

Our vision is of healthy oceans with abundant fish and wildlife contributing to human well being.

Our broad alliance of organisations employs scientific evidence and extensive experience in engaging decision-makers and stakeholders at all levels.

Sounds impressive, and it is. Ocean2012 boasts 168 members across the EU. It is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, along with the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, Ecologistas en Acción, The Fisheries Secretariat, nef (new economics foundation) and Seas At Risk.

Ocean2012 exists to make sure the European Union turns the tide on EU fisheries this year, when the Common Fisheries Policy is reviewed.

Ocean2012 sums it up thus:

“Decades of intensive fishing in European waters have led to dramatic declines in once abundant fish populations. Currently, 63% of fish stocks in the Atlantic are overfished, 82% in the Mediterranean and four out of the six stocks for which scientific advice is available in the Baltic, with over 20% being fished beyond safe biological limits, threatening their very future.

“The European Union’s (EU’s) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has failed to prevent overfishing. Over 25 years, short-term economic interest and political expediency has landed European fisheries in deep crisis. Continuous overfishing has resulted in less-productive fisheries with a gradual loss of jobs and livelihoods. Fewer and smaller fish are being caught, with greater effort required to find them, which often results in the targeting of other, sometimes even more vulnerable, species.

“The current CFP reform provides an opportunity to make European fisheries economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. There is a need to finally end overfishing and destructive fishing practices in order to deliver fair and equitable use of resources for future generations. Other EU legislation is calling for this. For example, the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSD) aims to achieve Good Environmental Status in Europe’s seas, including ensuring that:

  • populations of fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock; and
  • all elements of marine food webs… occur at… levels capable of ensuring the long-term abundance of the species and the retention of their full reproductive capacity.

“A fundamental reform of the CFP and its implementation is necessary to achieve these targets.”

The CFP needs to be changed because some fleets are currently overcapacity, thus resulting in overfishing, illegal fishing and political pressure on fisheries ministers to set catch limits above scientific advice. Even though improvements have been made in recent years, fishing limits continue to be set up to 100% above the scientific advice, such as for the 2012 quota for cod in the North Irish Sea and herring in the North Sea. And instead of investment in more sustainable fisheries, the EU continues to subsidise the fishing industry so they can modernise their fleets. Ocean2012 tells us this can lead to people having to pay twice for their fish – once in subsidies and once in the shops.

“The EU has enormous influence on global fisheries management and with this comes considerable responsibility. Its fleet is the third biggest globally and operates in every ocean of the world. It is the largest importer of fisheries products, importing almost 50% of its fish. The EU could be championing sustainable practice at home and abroad. Instead, the level of imports and fishing activities outside EU waters means that the effects of overfishing are being exported, frequently to distant coastal communities that rely on fish for food and income.

Ocean2012 is working for a CFP that:

  • enshrines environmental sustainability as the over-arching principle, without which economic and social sustainability is unobtainable;
  • ensures decisions are taken at the most appropriate levels and in a transparent way, ensuring effective participation of stakeholders;
  • delivers sustainable fishing capacity at EU and regional level;
  • makes access to fisheries resources conditional on environmental and social criteria; and
  • ensures public funds are only used in a way that serves the public good and alleviates social impacts in the transition to sustainable fisheries”

If you’re still unconvinced, here is another great video about the science behind the CFP reform opportunity.

European Fish Weeks

Whilst I’m wrapped up in my blanket down in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s summer up in Europe right now. Perfect time to get out there and do some campaigning.

European Fish Weeks runs from June 8 – Aug 31. So don’t worry, it’s only halfway through. Perhaps this will be a timely reminder that there is still an opportunity for you to get involved.

The aim is to make your voice heard. Tell politicians to “end overfishing or fishing will be over”. Politicians are responsible for making the decisions that will end overfishing; citizens have the responsibility to encourage and support them in making these decisions.

So I encourage you to get involved if you still can. Visit the Ocean2012 website to see if there any events going on near you, or to set one up. Their website also has translations into Deutsch,  Español,  Français,  ελληνικά,  ItalianoNederlands,  Polski, and  Português.

If you’re not in the EU

Never fear. There are still many ways in which you can make a difference in your own country. Many of the organisations that support Ocean2012 are international, with programs aimed towards sustainable fishing around the world. I encourage you to check them out.

This a global issue. Even Australia, who claim a fishing industry “ranking among the best-managed in the world”, have 18% of their fish stocks overfished or subject to overfishing; for a further 42% there isn’t enough information to tell the status. That doesn’t sound sustainable to me, or the scientists who have a constant battle for balance in quota setting, or the fishermen who are trying to make a livelihood, or the conservationists who want to make sure that there will always be plenty more fish in the sea.

Be aware of where your fish comes from, how it is produced, and who produces it.

Stay tuned for more on this topic to come. In the meantime, I hope you will join the fight for a sustainable fishing industry. Whoever, and wherever, you are.


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